In this chapter, I look at the case study of the contemporary poet Robert Grenier, in addition to a constellation of influences, especially Charles Olson and Larry Eigner, to examine how John Cage’s conception of silence was modified by US poets associated with the Language writing movement. I will return, in particular, to Grenier’s 1971 essay “On Speech”, widely regarded as one of the most important theoretical statements of its milieu. In that essay, Grenier expresses a hatred of speech—where speech is understood both as an arrogation of the metaphysics of the subject, and as the grounding of meaning in intersubjective communication. This hatred of speech, I argue, inevitably leads Grenier to a graphic practice that intends to disrupt the readability of the poem, preventing it from being read-out-loud. I explore how this mode of silent reception—which is based on a slow, contemplative reading—disrupts the boundary between literature and art, reading and seeing, and recasts poetry as an art of silence as a notation of experience, rather than an art of sound as a notation of speech.
|Title of host publication||Silence and its Derivatives|
|Subtitle of host publication||Conversations Across Disciplines|
|Editors||Mahshid Mayar , Marion Schulte|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 4 Sep 2022|